Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Arab Revolutions And My Rethinks On Britain And France

Paris Exposition: Champ de Mars and Eiffel Tow...Image by Brooklyn Museum via FlickrUltimately It Is About Iran, Because That Is Where It All Started
Syria's Turn
The Anatomy Of Revolutions For Democracy

For me Italy has been Mississippi. I have been everywhere in Mississippi. It is charming. But I never felt like I wanted to move there, or even perhaps visit again. Somebody might say something. I was all too aware of its racial history, and the coded racial language that can still permeate political campaigns in that part of the US. One ad against black guy Ford in Tennessee simply had a white woman say, "Call me!"

I have never been to Europe. I have long thought I'd want to have been to Africa and Latin America and if there is still some gas left, I might hop by Europe some day. But after the past few weeks I am much more thawed. Britain's and France's willingness to go in there and do something about the hapless civilians in Libya has shaken my own personal world. I am much more open to visiting Europe now.

The past is prelude. History is a springboard. We need to be obsessed with the future. Sometimes when you try to get your points across about race relations some people think, maybe he does not like white guys. If you are a white guy who makes racist, sexist comments, cracks racist, sexist jokes, I don't, truth be told. But my absolute favorite thing - yes, thing - to hate on this planet are Third World dictators. There I relentlessly look for common cause.

You talk about the plight of the Madhesi in Nepal, and you can't underestimate the extent of internalized prejudice that permeates the Madhesi population. Common cause goes way beyond identity.
New York Times: A Paris Farewell: Weaned as I was on “A Moveable Feast” and “Memoirs of Montparnasse,” when I moved to Paris, I saw it clearly divided between the artsy Left Bank and the buttoned-up Right Bank. The Left Bank was for thinkers and dreamers; artists and musicians; students and stargazers who famously sought inspiration ....... , nothing made me happier, or feel more Parisienne, than meandering up and down the pedestrian blocks, inhaling the irresistible smells of roasting chickens, stinky cheeses and warm, yeasty baguettes. On more occasions than warranted, I’d treat myself to a crème-filled pain aux raisins from Stohrer, one of the oldest bakeries in Paris. ....... (or bobos — “bourgeois bohemians” — in Parisian parlance). ...... Like the Mission in San Francisco or the Lower East Side in Manhattan, Canal St.-Martin is gritty with dirt and makeshift tarp shelters. But it’s also alive with creative energy. ...... I saw the same cool kids snacking on tapas like oyster tapioca with blood sausage and dried duck meat. ...... “This neighborhood is very off the track, so clients are people who know Paris a little.” ...... Mostly though, I contented myself bytaking in the views overlooking the canal — knobby chestnut trees, vagrant homeless camps and all. ...... Paris is a city filled with five-star hotels, each with its own history and style. ..... Since I couldn’t afford one of the 139 rooms or suites that start at 730 euros a night, I figured I’d do the next best thing: splurge on lunch. ..... When in Rome, I told myself, and went directly to the French side. ..... Just as the edgy east had drawn me in throughout my first year, as autumn turned to winter during my second year, I eagerly soaked up its more sophisticated side. ...... As soon as I arrived, I spied Mr. Robuchon, who has more Michelin stars than any other chef in the world, supervising in the open kitchen. I knew it was going to be a special lunch. “Une coupe de Champagne?” I was asked as soon as I was situated at my corner perch at the bar, seated between two pairs of men. I accepted. ....... and brochettes of creamy Parmesan-covered salsifis — a root vegetable (salsify to the Englsh-speaking) that I had never heard of but was given to me by Mr. Robuchon himself as un cadeau, and something I’ll now forever seek on menus. ....... As the lunch rolled on, I discovered the two pairs of men I was seated between included Michelin reviewers and members of the Club des Cent, a distinguished, if not clandestine, organization of 100 French gastronomes. The gentlemen pointed out many others in the restaurant I should have recognized but didn’t, including the actor Jean Reno and the singer Charles Aznavour and the former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. The atmosphere was electrifying, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the food. ....... By the time I finished my golden caramel soufflé, most everyone in the restaurant was gone, and there I sat, “Mademoiselle Amy,” befriended by the staff, if only for the day. ..... When I finally left the opulent den, parting with repeated handshakes, smiles and “enchantées,” I was beyond sated, beyond charmed. But I couldn’t help but also feel a tinge of melancholy: If only I could pack up this moment and a hundred others — biking across the Pont Alexandre III, admiring the rosebuds in the wintery Palais Royal gardens — and place them alongside the boxes of macarons and photos of Alain in the Marché des Enfants Rouges. Then I stepped out onto the Champs-Élysées, into the buoyant heart of Paris, and the wistfulness vanished, just like that.
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